The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio RacesBy Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: Oct 18, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Library

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Goodreads Summary

I featured this book a few weeks ago on a “Waiting On” Wednesday post, and I was trolling through the new releases at the library and there it was, waiting patiently on the shelf just for me. Maggie Stiefvater has such a unique style of writing, and I’m a huge fan girl of hers. She pretty much can do no wrong.

The small island of Thisbe is home to the Scorpio races every November, where men of great courage (or great stupidity, if you ask me) race each other down the beach on sea horses. These magical creatures of power surround the island and have inspired equal parts awe and fear in the residents of Thisbe for centuries. For the last four years of the race, a young man named Sean Kendrick has won and is the returning favorite. Also entered in the races is Puck Connolly, the first woman to ride. She never wanted to be in the race, but she signs up in a desperate attempt to keep her older brother close to home. Puck and her two brothers were orphaned when the dreaded sea horses killed their parents at sea. The Connolly family is barely holding together, and Puck feels abandoned by her older brother who is now leaving by choice. Not only is Puck the first women to enter – much to the dismay of the other men participants – she chooses to ride her own mare, and island pony instead of a sea horse. Puck knows that she doesn’t stand a chance, but now she needs to prove to herself that she can do it.

Maggie Stiefvater writes “desolate” and “hopeless” like no other author I’ve ever read. Everything about this story seems hopeless. The island is very small and there aren’t a lot of opportunities to make money, so most of the islanders are struggling to exist. Sean Kendrick lost his father in a race, and has spent the last several years working for another man and longs for the day when he can live under his own roof with his own horses. Puck is orphaned, her older brother can’t bear living on the island and is going to abandon her and her younger brother. With all three of them working, they are still struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table. The Scorpio races are the one bright light in an otherwise bleak year for the islanders.

As the start of the race gets closer, Puck and Sean start up a friendship. Puck is the only person to see past the steel wall Sean has built around himself, and Sean admires Puck’s courage. They soon start training together and everything seems a little less hopeless. The tone the author uses left me heart broken for most of the book. I might have teared up a time or two at how the characters live and survive. Trust Maggie though to bring us out of the depths of despair, and to make the story end on a bright note with tears of happiness in my eyes.

The book is light on the romance, and more on the story and plot. In most cases I would complain, but I didn’t even notice while reading the book. The relationship that Puck and Sean develop is infinitely more dear and lovely because of it.

I think the only complaint I do have, and it’s a small one, is that Puck was a little mean and grumpy. I know she has been dealt a rough hand, but I would have liked her to been a little bit nicer to her younger brother. There were several times where I was a little disappointed in her snotty attitude. She was already doing a courageous thing of entering in the races, and I don’t see how her having a soft heart could have taken anything away from the story.

My Summary: I was blown away by the style, the setting and it grabbed my attention like no other book has in awhile. I feel like a better person for having read this book, and it made me grateful for the life I lead and the blessings I enjoy. At least I don’t have to fear raging sea horses out for blood in my daily life. Anything else is just gravy after that.

My Rating: A+




  1. Maggie Stiefvater writes "desolate" and "hopeless" like no other author I've ever read.I completely agree with this… but she also managed to write it in a way that isn't awfully depressing? I'm so excited to read this. I actually just ordered it yesterday. I fell in love with Maggie Stiefvater after Shiver, and I love her writing.I'm also really looking forward to something that isn't a dystopia, or doesn't have vampires 😀

  2. That's the thing.. it isn't awfully depressing, but it could be and that's what I love. I never know which way she's going to go, and it makes for an interesting read!

  3. Okay so I really need to read this. I've never read her Shiver series but they both sound so good!Great review:D

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